Exclusive: Oath Keepers founder slams conservative media ‘hypocrisy’
PART 1 OF 2: Darling of right-leaning pundits attacks promoters, says Glenn Beck ‘was kissing Bush’s booty and now he’s counting his change’
In a time of crisis, who can the people trust? Their political leadership, or fellow citizens?
Concerned the answer to that question might be turning into “neither,” Yale-educated ex-soldier and former Ron Paul organizer Stewart Rhodes hatched an idea that’s grown beyond his wildest imagination.
Now a darling of the conservative media for his military and law enforcement activist group “Oath Keepers,” Rhodes is pursued by fawning tea party organizers and promoted by people like Glenn Beck, Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan and even Watergate burglary planner G. Gordon Liddy.
Though the newfound love from right-leaning pundits is certainly not lost on him, it’s not reciprocated. For as much as they laud Rhodes, push stories about Oath Keepers and link their materials, he just sees “hypocrisy” — and was not ashamed to tear down his recent promoters in an interview with RAW STORY.
Take, for example, Glenn Beck, who eagerly followed Matt Drudge in promoting Oath Keepers late last year for their pledge to “prevent dictatorship.” Though Oath Keepers is cosponsoring a Beck-organized 9/12 rally in Washington, D.C. later this year, that doesn’t mean Rhodes agrees with or even likes the flamboyant Fox TV star.
“I’m not sure where he’s at, he kinda jumps around,” Rhodes said of Beck. “He was, early on during the Ron Paul campaign, horrible to Ron Paul. He even suggested that some of his followers were potential domestic terrorists and wanted to use the military against them. So, he seems kind of erratic.”
“I think, some of the things he’s been saying lately, I would agree with,” he continued. “But, I’m always skeptical of someone who is erratic and not very consistent.”
“Go back into the Bush years,” he continued. “I didn’t see him being very outspoken against Bush, so that would be my biggest beef with him. You won’t find that from me. I challenge anyone to go back and find me saying anything good about President Bush.”
Rhodes added: “That’s the problem with people like Michelle Malkin, and apparently Glenn Beck — and Rush Limbaugh is in the same camp — during the Bush administration, you didn’t hear a peep out of them about, oh, the president is overstepping constitutional boundaries, he’s endangering the country, this stuff is unconstitutional. I didn’t hear anything like that from those people.”
“In fact, [it was] quite the opposite,” he said. “Michelle Malkin was running around arguing why the internment of Japanese Americans was proper and necessary, [like] they were really dangerous people. You know, [she was] laying the groundwork, overtly, for interning Arab Americans.”
“Apparently Glenn Beck is the same way,” Rhodes concluded. “He was kissing Bush’s booty and now he’s counting his change… It’s all complete hypocrisy… Even Rush Limbaugh admitted that he was just carrying their water.”
In spite of Oath Keepers’ exponential rise in conservative media this year, the opinion lines are still being drawn.
Thanks in part to growing fears of a gathering “patriot” militia threat to the nation’s first black president, many on the left look upon Oath Keepers with disdain and mistrust. Rhodes’s frequent appearances at tea parties have only cultivated that image, leading Mother Jones reporter Justine Sharrock to recently claim they are “recruiting soldiers to resist the Obama administration.”
But it’s not exclusively the Obama administration that Rhodes seems concerned about, though you wouldn’t know it from the fawning and damning media accounts of his politics.
Why? Because Oath Keepers would appear to pose a visible threat to those in power by preaching about the 10 orders they think law-abiding soldiers or police officers should never obey. This document, often cited by the media as the group’s actual oath, is what Rhodes calls a “teaching tool” to help those in service understand the oath they swore before putting on a uniform.
The document insists Oath Keepers must refuse orders to usher Americans before military tribunals, blockade U.S. cities, disarm gun-owners or aid in populating any form of military detention camp on U.S. soil, among other items.
The list of 10 orders soldiers and police must refuse has become a magnet for criticism from groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, which traces the roots of one conspiracy theory in particular — that the Federal Emergency Management Agency may be preparing to cram Americans into Nazi-style death camps — to the so-called “patriot” militia movement of the 1990s.
In a stretch of irony, most of the orders that Oath Keepers refuse to obey stem from the broad claims of executive power made by the second President Bush. This led Rhodes to omit unquestioning obedience to the president from the oath: something many liberals would have been strongly in favor of, at one point.
Now famed among tea party conservatives, many of whom are dissenting in public for their first time, Rhodes sees opportunity everywhere. Oath Keepers’ members have cultivated a distinctly rightward tilt, with their Web site at one point featuring videos of speakers who compared Obama to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. One member even declared during a speech that President Obama is “the domestic enemy the Constitution is talking about,” according to The Las Vegas Review Journal.
Yet, Oath Keepers insist they are a “non-partisan” organization that struggles to keep its thousands of unofficial, non-dues-paying members “on message.” To Rhodes, partisanship is akin to a football game: “The owner of the stadium will still make a ton of money no matter who wins,” he said.
“I have a chance to, like, deprogram [conservatives] from all the bullshit they were programmed with by the neocons during Bush,” Rhodes concluded. “I have a chance to reach them.”
While that’s exactly what he’s set about to do for the remainder of President Obama’s stay in the White House, it’s not just an appeal to conservatives this libertarian activist has in mind …
Look for Part 2 of this exclusive RAW STORY report on Wednesday, May 5.
This video is from CNN, published to YouTube on November 19, 2009.